Asked before Tuesday night's game about how the Orioles could maintain the momentum that they built on the previous homestand, a grinning Buck Showalter said: "Pitching would be a good start. Then probably pitching."
The Orioles' new manager didn't mention anything about hitting, which looked like a glaring oversight several hours later when his team put together its biggest offensive outburst of the season — and had a fine time doing it.
Trailing by two after starter Jake Arrieta allowed five fourth-inning runs, the Orioles leaned heavily on the long ball and scored 10 consecutive runs at one point to overwhelm the Cleveland Indians, 14-8, before an announced 13,541 at Progressive Field.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a relief," said first baseman Luke Scott, who had a homer and four RBIs. "It just makes the game fun for us whenever we pound out some hits, score a lot of runs. It just does the dugout good. You started seeing guys taking really good, aggressive hacks at balls in the zone. When their pitchers made the mistakes, guys weren't taking tentative hacks. Guys were getting after it."
It was the Orioles' third straight win and their seventh in eight games since Showalter took over. The 14 runs were the most the Orioles (39-74) have scored all season. Their six-run outburst in the eighth, which turned the game into a rare laugher for the Orioles, matched their highest scoring inning in 2010.
Left fielder Felix Pie who got it started with a three-run homer in the fifth off Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (4-11). That gave the Orioles the lead and started a home run barrage. Corey Patterson hit a solo homer in the sixth. Matt Wieters hit a two-run blast in the eighth, and Scott then connected for a three-run shot later in the inning, his team-leading 21st home run.
Scott, as Kevin Millwood pointed out earlier this year, hits the "happiest home runs" in baseball, smiling broadly and aggressively hugging and high-fiving teammates when he gets back to the dugout. But every Oriole was smiling Tuesday night as eight of nine starters had at least one hit, and the only one who didn't, center fielder Adam Jones, drove in a run.
"Everybody's got more energy now, [is] more focused, [is] playing the game the right way," said Pie, who had two hits and was robbed of a fourth RBI on an unbelievable play by Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who fielded Pie's deflected ball with his bare hand while falling onto his back, looked Scott back to third and then got the out at first. "When you win, you are having fun. When you lose, you're a little down, you know?"
Progressive Field has been a house of horrors for the Orioles, who are just 19-46 here since it opened in 1994. But they made it look rather small Tuesday night with the four homers traveling a combined 1,618 feet. Patterson's line shot off lefty Tony Sipp went the shortest distance — 386 feet — but it was a hardly a cheapie as it landed in the back of the visiting bullpen in right field.
"A lot of yardage tonight," Showalter said. "That was impressive."
The only negative was that the team's stretch of seven consecutive quality starts — the longest for the club since 2003 — ended as Arrieta (4-3) allowed six runs (five earned) over six innings. But he managed to show something to his teammates by shrugging off the five-run fourth and staying in the game long enough to benefit from the offensive barrage and pick up the win.
"He could have crumbled there," Scott said. "What happened was he got back on the mound, put up zeros and attacked the zone. I think that was good for his confidence and good for everyone to see."
Arrieta might not have gotten out of the disastrous fourth inning had Brian Roberts' relay throw not cut down Cabrera at the plate. Cabrera was trying to score on Shin-Soo Choo's bases-loaded double, which had already scored two runs to give Cleveland a 6-4 advantage.
"I was just kind of glad to be out of the inning. Things weren't really going my way," Arrieta said. "I didn't feel very good physically today for whatever reason. My body felt heavy, my legs felt like they weren't really under me. I knew I had to be locked in mentally to have success today. The first three innings, I felt great. The fourth inning, I lost a little bit of command with my off-speed pitches and they took advantage of some good fastballs and were able to find some holes."
Though Mark Hendrickson was ready in the bullpen, Showalter sent Arrieta out for the fifth, and the rookie responded by retiring the final six batters he faced. He then became an interested and pleased observer of the Orioles' offensive breakout.
"I wanted to say, 'You might want to thank me for leaving you in the last inning,' " Showalter joked. "I didn't say that, but he'll figure it out. He's a competitor."
Said Arrieta: "It's real fun to be an Oriole right now with the way the guys are swinging the bats and the starters have been able to throw the ball pretty well and go deep into games. We're all having a lot of fun right now."
The Orioles are 4-0 this season in games in which they have scored 10 runs or more:
Aug. 10: Orioles 14, Indians 8
July 20: Orioles 11, Rays 10, 13 inn.
June 24: Orioles 11, Marlins 5
May 1: Orioles 12, Red Sox 9
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